Niels Nkounkou makes Everton return admission and talks progress at Standard Liege

Everton (Photo by Perry of de Leuvert/BSR Agency/Getty Images)
Everton (Photo by Perry of de Leuvert/BSR Agency/Getty Images) /

In the summer, Rafa Benitez assessed the young brigade of Everton and came to a decision to keep Anthony Gordon and Jarrad Branthwaite at the club rather than loaning them out. That was not the case with Niels Nkounkou. The Frenchman completed the loan switch to Standard Liege in the culminating stages of the summer transfer window.

The Toffees lost Thierry Small to Southampton after failing to reach an agreement over the new deal as the 17 year old starlet looked elsewhere for opportunities. This left Everton with Lucas Digne and Nkounou with two traditional left backs. Digne was the undoubted starter at left back and Nkounkou was likely to be his understudy.

However, Benitez decided upon sending Nkounkou out on loan where he could get regular playing opportunities and polish his skills. Even though this left the Toffees short of options in the left back department, the loan move for Nkounkou was seen as a win-win in the longer run for all parties.

Now at Standard Liege, the 21 year old is flourishing in Luka Elsner’s setup. Even though the Belgian side sits 12th in the league table, they have been unbeaten in the last five games and Nkounkou starred in their most recent win on Sunday against Eupen.

Everton loanee Niels Nkounkou talks about his progress

Nkounkou put in a brilliant shift on the pitch, contributing in attack as well as in defence. The former Marseille man made three clearances, three tackles, one interception and was not dribbled past even once in 90 minutes. The 21 year old made two key passes, created one big chance, had a solitary shot on target and darted three crosses.

After the win against Eupen, Nkounkou spoke about returning to Everton and how his adaptation process at Standard Liege has fared.

"I take everything I can take. I am learning a lot to return to my club [Everton] stronger. It was not easy to change leagues, there was a period of adaptation which is now over.It has been a while since I put in a performance like the one on Saturday night. Physically, I am well and I hope to continue in this way. (via L’Avenir relayed by Inside Futbol)"

When Nkounkou arrived at Everton on a free transfer in 2020 from Marseille, he was deemed as a star for the future and Marcel Brands was praised for picking up the gem. The cherry on top was that he arrived on a Bosman transfer.

He was well known for his excellent attacking capabilities and his drive to push forward from the left back role. In the cup games he played last season, the left back gelled well with Gordon. The 21 year old impressed with his attacking potential and ability to take on players in attack.

Nkounkou revealed that he had several conversations with manager Elsner before the game and he was asked to play high up the pitch.

"It’s the game I like to play. It’s my style. I spoke a lot with the coach before the game. He asked me to play very high and offer a lot more to the attack, like I did, [the way] I like to do it."

Nkounkou seems to be progressing well and gaining much-needed experience before he returns to the Premier League circus for Everton. Next season, it is almost certain that Nkounkou will act as a backup to Digne and continue to adapt and improve.

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Will Niels Nkounkou come back as a polished and astute player from his loan?